Perhaps no story has united the fan bases of the New England Patriots and New York Giants more than that of linebacker Mark Herzlich, who overcame cancer to make the Giants as an undrafted free agent. The former Boston College Eagles star has been out with an ankle injury since late November, but, thanks to a long break before the Super Bowl, has a chance to return against the Patriots.
"I remember when I was at BC, I sat in the basement of Chris Fox's house, a teammate of mine -- [former Patriots safety] Tim Fox was his father -- to watch the Super Bowl in '07," Herzlich said. "Everybody was rooting for the Patriots, and I played the devil's advocate and rooted for the Giants, purely to play devil's advocate. It was a great feeling when they won, and it's going to be a similar feeling this weekend."
Herzlich returned to practice last week and he thinks he can contribute on Sunday if given the chance.
"Physically, I am feeling great," Herzlich said. "I am not on the injury report, so if I can get out there and help in any way, I hope to."
"The more depth you have, obviously helps," linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said. "Getting Mark back for this game is going to help.
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"He's actually been participating the last couple of weeks," Herrmann continued. "Really the last practice in New Jersey, he said, 'I finally feel good. I feel 100 percent.' So that's a good sign."
Herzlich started briefly before his injury and has since been replaced by veteran LB Chase Blackburn, but he would see time on special teams and perhaps in goal-line situations if he's active on Sunday.
Mara, Kraft formed a pretty good team
Giants co-owner and CEO John Mara, who also serves as head of the labor relations committee, thanked Patriots owner Bob Kraft for the role he served in settling the offseason lockout.
"I don't think we get to the finish line without Bob Kraft," Mara said. "The message that he kept delivering to the players, which I think really resonated, 'We're not going to let you do a bad deal. We need to do a deal that works for both of us and we need to make it a long-term deal because that has such a huge effect on our business which, in turn, helps you.'
"That message came across over and over again and I think it made an impression on them and I think they all respected the amount of time he was putting in," Mara continued. "Everybody knew what he was going through and he still found the time to be there with us."
Kraft was dealing with the death of his wife, Myra, around the time of the labor negotiations, which obviously made his efforts on that front even more appreciated.
Earlier, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said he was happy to see these two teams in the Super Bowl, given the role each ownership group played in the negotiations. Mara was appreciative of the comments, but added, "I'm not necessarily happy to be playing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, I'll tell you that."
Reese works for sixth Super Bowl appearance
The Giants are on the verge of playing in the franchise's fifth Super Bowl, but general manager Jerry Reese and his staff are already busy trying to get back for a sixth time.
"We never stop [scouting players]," Reese said. "I just got back from the Senior Bowl myself and was down there for a couple days. I was also at the East-West game for a couple of days. Our scouts are actually looking at film right now at the hotel. That process never stops."
However, when asked about any potential offseason moves, Reese said that topic isn't "appropriate to talk about right now."
Bootless Williams to practice?
Rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams said he plans on practicing Wednesday after missing last week's practices with a sprained foot. Williams was in a walking boot last week, but seemed to be moving around just fine at Tuesday's Media Day. He told CBSSports.com that he isn't paying much attention to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's injury situation (he reportedly has a high ankle sprain), but says he hopes to play against him in the Super Bowl. Williams, who veteran linebacker Michael Boley said is the fastest linebacker he's ever seen, frequently covers tight ends.
Fewell at peace with decision
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had the opportunity to take the same position with the Chicago Bears, where he coached the defensive backs in 2005, prior to accepting his gig in New York back in 2010. It's a decision he doesn't think about often, and it's not something he regrets.
"It was just a feel," Fewell said. "I love [Bears coach] Lovie Smith and enjoyed my time in Chicago and I knew that was coach Smith's defense. He is an excellent defensive coach and I just thought that at the time, I probably needed to step out on my own and run my own defense. It was always going to be coach Smith's defense and if I was going to make my mark in coaching I had to do it Perry Fewell's way, and that was one of the main reasons I came to New York."